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Benefits of Flexible Work-Life Arrangements

Canada, Europe, India, Japan, and United States


Flexible Work Arrangements

​Flexible Work Options Attract and Retain Top Talent1

At every leadership level, at least half of high-potential employees reported that flexible work arrangements (FWA) were very or extremely important.2

  • High potential women (39%) are more likely than men (29%) to report telecommuting frequently, very frequently, or always over the course of their careers.3
  • At organizations without FWAs, women (57%) were more than twice as likely as men (28%) to downsize their career aspirations.4
Flexible Work is a Business Strategy, Not an Accommodation5

Some benefits of flexible work arrangements for employers include:6

  • Attraction and retention

  • Increased engagement and loyalty

  • Cost savings and ROI

  • Reduced negative outcomes (e.g., accidents, distractions, sick time)

  • Improved ability to work globally and across time zones

Some benefits of flexible work arrangements for employees include:7

  • Increased job satisfaction

  • Improved performance

  • Lower stress

  • Reduced turnover intentions

  • Reduced absenteeism

  • Less time commuting

Deloitte calculated the cost savings from flexibility by calculating the turnover expense from those employees who would have left without FWAs, and came up with a savings of $41.5 million in turnover costs alone.8

Technology costs for virtual works is the biggest expense for employers.9



More Women Than Men Work Part-Time

Almost 20% (18.9%) of all people employed in 2015 worked part-time.10

  • In 2015, part-time women workers represent 26.4% of all women working in Canada, compared with 12.1% of all working men.11  
  • In 2015, almost one-third (27.1%) of all employees (women and men) who work part-time do so by personal preference.12
  • Of those working part-time in management occupations, 50.2% are men, compared to 49.8% of women. 13 

Only about 4% of Canadians work very long hours (50 hours or more).14



More Women Than Men Use Flexible Work Options in the United Kingdom 15
  • In the first half of 2015, of those working flexibly in the UK, 55% are women and 45.1% are men. 16 
  • Working flexible hours is the most common form of flex used almost equally by women (50.8%) and men (49.2%) in the United Kingdom as of early 2015.17

Access to Flexible Work Varies Across Europe 


  • Workers in the Nordic countries, Germany, and Austria have more flexible working arrangements than the EU average, while workers are least likely to have FWAs in central and eastern European countries. 18

  • In France, parents with two or more children can work reduced hours or leave the workforce and receive a childcare benefit for up to three years. 19



Women Have More Difficulty Managing Work-Life Than Men20
  • Indian men surveyed were more likely to say that managing work and personal life was "easy" for them (61%), compared with 48% of women.21

  • Ninety percent of Indian women surveyed reported that the workplace does not meet their work-life needs.22  



After Marriage or the Birth of a Child, Women Leave the Labor Force 23
  • Only 38% of working women surveyed believe Japanese society supports working mothers.24

  • Eighty percent of working women surveyed believe it is difficult to work full-time once they are mothers. 25

  • Balancing work and life is the top reason cited why mothers were currently not employed. 26 

Public Childcare Is on the Rise
  • By March 2018, there will be an additional half-million new public childcare spots, and by March 2020, after-school childcare centers will offer additional care for 0.3 million children.27 


United States

Slightly More Men Than Women Work Flexibly 
  • In 2012, 34.0% of women and 36.4% of men have flexible work hours.28

  • Over a half (51.5%) of workers over 65 years old have flexible work hours.29


More Education = More Flexibility
  • Almost half (45.1%) of people with a bachelor’s degree or higher have flexible work hours, compared to about one third (28.8%) of those with only a high school diploma.30

    • ​In 2015, 38% of those working in management, business, and financial operations telecommuted on some or all of the days they worked. 31


Telecommuting Is Becoming More Common32
  • In 2003, 19% of workers did some or all of their work from home, compared to 24% in 2015—an increase of over 25%. 33

Telecommuting at for-profit organizations has increased almost 95% (94.8%) between 2005 and 2014.34

  • At non-profit organizations, that rate of increase is 105.1%.35


Additional Resources

Catalyst, Flex Works (2013).

CatalystX, Inclusive Leadership Training: Get Beyond Work-Life Balance (2016).

When Work Works, “Workflex Guides to Help Work Work,” (2016).

Australian Government/Workplace Gender Equality Agency, Employee Flexibility Toolkit (April 30, 2015).

Australian Government/Workplace Gender Equality Agency, Developing and Implementing a Flexibility Strategy (May 12, 2015).



How to cite this product: Catalyst. Quick Take: Benefits of Flexible Work Arrangements. New York: Catalyst, October 14, 2016.